No one ever said your dog would come with good manners. Indeed, while we can often train dogs to listen and be polite, there are certain behaviors they display that can seem a bit ‘rude’.
Many dogs are intrigued by the scent of period blood… This can make for some uncomfortable encounters if they start to show extra attention to a woman’s crotch area while she is on her period. It can also put your dog at real risk; if they sniff out and eat a used sanitary product.
While their behavior is innate and natural, there are things we can do about it.
Why Are Dogs Attracted To Period Blood?
Dogs, as domesticated as they are, are hunters by nature. They are always going to be attracted to the smell of meat, offal and blood. In the wild, this ensures they don’t pass up a tasty meal. While they don’t need this instinct as our pets, old habits die hard.
The smell of blood is near enough impossible for a dog to resist and they will automatically want to explore if they detect it. This also explains why your dog will be interested in your used sanitary products which they may raid the bin to find and eat.
Dogs will be most attracted to blood that has been sitting around for a while, as the smell has intensified.
There is also a theory that the female pheromones within period blood is attractive to dogs. They are naturally curious and eager to learn more about these smells. They can also detect any sweat that is present; a scent they can find irresistible.
Are Dogs At Risk From Period Blood?
The blood itself is not in any way dangerous to your dog. If, for example, they were to lick a drop or two from the floor or the toilet bowl, there is no cause for alarm. They will not become unwell and there is no need for us to do anything.
Some owners worry about diseases or infections being passed to their dogs, but there is no disease that can be passed on in this way from us to our canine companions.
It is not the blood itself that is the danger, rather the products we use to absorb or collect it such as pads, tampons, menstrual cups and period pants.
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Why Your Dog Shouldn’t Really Go Near Period Blood
While period blood itself is not going to make your dog sick, they can become very poorly if they ingest used sanitary products such as pads and tampons.
This is because the products can swell within their gut and stomach and lead to life-threatening obstructions. These products can become very appealing to a dog once they have been used.
Another potential risk is of a dog choking. Sanitary products have not been designed to break apart easily and they can get stuck in the throat.
We also need to consider the string of the tampon. The string is defined as a ‘linear foreign body’ that can cause the intestines to bunch together and even rupture as it passes along the gut.
As well as this, a dog on the ‘hunt’ for a period blood scent can be obnoxious around your guests. Some will pester females who are on their period, so we need to train them so they know that this is not acceptable.
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Can I Stop My Dog From Being Attracted To Period Blood?
We will never be able to change our dogs’ instincts. No matter what we do, our dogs will always be attracted to this smell. However, we can manage this instinct and control the environment to ensure our dogs are safe.
Sanitary products must be kept well out of reach of our pets at all times. Ideally, this would mean out of the house or behind a locked door.
We may also need to work on training. This is not only so we can prevent awkward moments between our dogs and any female visitors, but also so they listen to us if we tell them to drop a sanitary product they have found.
Top tip: Teach your dog the ‘Leave it’ command. A situation we need to avoid is when our dog has snaffled a used pad or tampon and is refusing to give it up to us. As they will see it as a prized possession, they may not give it up easily. However, if they already know a solid ‘Leave it’ command, we can be sure they drop their ‘treasure’.
A dog who is busy and kept occupied with other things (like puzzles, games and exercise) is less likely to get up to mischief. A bored dog is more likely to search for things they shouldn’t and snaffle them. Try to ensure your dog is not left alone for prolonged periods.
When Would I Need To See a Vet?
If your dog has consumed a sanitary product and you have witnessed it, let their vet know right away. They will discuss the best option with you, which will depend on what was eaten and when. It will also depend on your dog’s medical history as well as their age and size.
It is also important to see a vet if we think our dog has eaten a sanitary product and they are showing symptoms such as:
- A reduced appetite
- A bloated abdomen
- Abdominal pain
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How can I keep my dog safe?
Keep your dog safe by being conscious of the risks of used sanitary products. Consider purchasing bins that your dog cannot open and keeping the bins behind a locked door in a room your dog has no access to.
If you see your dog has snatched a sanitary product, be quick. Hopefully, they know a ‘Leave it’ command so they will willingly drop the item and you can safely dispose of it.
Otherwise, try swapping it for a high-value item such as some chicken, cheese, or sausage.
If they do manage to eat the soiled item, call your vet as a matter of urgency. They may ask you to come in to induce vomiting, depending on what was eaten.
Why does only one of my dogs like the smell of period blood?
The majority of dogs are attracted to the smell of blood, whether it is period blood or not. However, not every dog will be obsessed with the smell. Certain hunting breeds may have more of an obvious interest than Toy breeds, for example.
Do I need to consider any other items?
As well as used pads and tampons, some dogs have a strong desire to find and ingest soiled nappies, used toilet paper and even used condoms. All of these items can cause gut obstructions, so it is crucial they are kept well away from your dog.
How can I stop my dog being a nuisance to female guests?
If your dog has a reputation for being a bit of a ‘crotch sniffer’ you need to get on top of this. Have a zero-tolerance policy, telling them a firm ‘no’ every time. Reward them when they are well-behaved, offering lots of praise as well as some tasty treats.
Some dogs may need to be kept on a leash around guests at the start of their training. Once they have more control over themselves, we can let them off the leash under close supervision.